Common applications of printed circuit board in electronic products

Technology has perennially remained at the vanguard of contemporary society, and printed circuit boards (PCBs) have significantly contributed to the advancements in electronic products across diverse fields. It would not be an overstatement to assert that the evolution of modern society owes a great debt to PCBs, which represent a crucial element in the operation of virtually all electronic devices, ranging from household appliances to aerospace engineering. In light of their indispensability, TechSparks will provide an industry-focused overview of the ubiquitous applications of printed circuit boards.

Consumer Electronics Products

Application of PCB in Consumer Electronics

Consumer electronics refers to electronic products used in personal entertainment, communication, and office fields. These products are relied upon by millions of people, and their functionality often relies on the application of PCBs.

  • Mechanical Keyboards: Compared to traditional membrane switch keyboards, mechanical keyboards use PCBs as the core and have individual switches for each key.
  • Electric Guitar Pedals: While musicians can create beautiful tracks without the use of pedals, electric guitar pedals can enhance the music with the use of a voltage regulator chip assembled to a PCB to maintain a steady guitar voltage.
  • Foldable Mobile Phones: Traditional rigid PCB cannot be used in foldable designs. Therefore, these foldable mobile phones require the use of a combination of rigid and flexible PCBs to achieve their foldable designs, which is the most suitable application of rigid-flexible PCB.
  • More: TVs, computers, watches, radios, game consoles, coffee makers, refrigerators, microwaves.

Compared to other high-end electronic products, the demand for consumer electronics is vast, but the profit margin for each product is relatively low. For instance, data cables sold on Amazon usually have a profit margin of around 15%. Therefore, as a manufacturer, while striving to maintain quality and consistency to ensure safety and compliance, it is crucial to reduce costs as much as possible when seeking PCBA services.

Medical Electronics

PCBs are used in the medical field

As is evident, global healthcare standards are consistently improving, thanks to the ongoing modernization of the electronics industry that is propelling the development of high-end, precision medical equipment. The progress in PCB manufacturing technology has led to a multi-tiered and diversified trend in the design of medical devices, including monitors, scanning technology, control systems, and other applications that are frequently employed in the medical domain. The following is a brief overview of some of the commonly employed medical PCB applications.

  • Medical Imaging System: X-ray, CT imaging, MRI magnetic resonance, ultrasound scanner, PET and SPECT, etc.
  • Medical Monitors: respiration, heart rate, ECG, body temperature, blood pressure and glucose monitors, pH meters and pressure sensors, etc.
  • Electronic Infusion Pump: In the medical system, the electronic infusion pump relies on the application of PCB to precisely control the infusion, including quantitative infusion pump, drip speed infusion pump, multi-channel infusion pump and double fault-tolerant infusion pump.
  • Implantable Devices: With the development of high-density interconnection technology of printed circuits, the size of medical electronics has become smaller and can even be implanted in the human body, such as cardiac pacemakers, neuromodulators, orthopedic implants and cochlear implants.
  • Control System: surgical robot, hospital bed control system, automatic dental chair and pressure control valve, etc.

As time has progressed, the role of electronics in medicine has grown in importance. Technological advances in diagnosis and therapy have revolutionized patient care. Medical equipment demands compactness and high-speed requirements, which present challenges for manufacturers. PCB manufacturers are required to possess advanced HDI technology and multi-layer lamination technology to achieve this. Additionally, manufacturers must adhere to strict hygiene standards and possess ISO13485 certification, among others.

Vehicle Electronics

In today’s world, most households have a sedan, and modern cars rely heavily on electronics to provide more functionality to the car’s control systems compared to older models. When integrating advanced technologies such as radio frequency technology into cars, it is important to avoid line confusion by spreading circuits across the PCB to achieve accurate and efficient signal transmission. For manufacturers, ensuring safe driving is a top priority, and they prioritize using high-temperature laminates, aluminum or copper substrates, or through-hole assemblies to achieve this goal.

  • Monitors: Although cameras on cars are not visible, they play a crucial role in various monitoring systems, including driving recorders, lane departure warnings, blind spot monitoring, and vehicle diagnostics. These devices rely on printed circuit boards to ensure efficient signal transmission.
  • Control systems: The power supply, fuel adjustment, and engine management systems of modern cars rely on high-density PCBs to achieve monitoring and management functions.
  • Media equipment: Modern cars provide not only transportation but also entertainment. The PCB-based instrument panel controls practical media equipment such as radio and TV, which can be enjoyed by passengers during long-distance driving.
  • Navigation equipment: GPS technology is commonly used in most vehicles to assist drivers in finding the correct road and providing real-time analysis of road conditions. 

The integration of various auxiliary electronics in cars has greatly improved the driving experience, however, the application of PCB boards requires consideration of several factors, such as high vibration rates, high-speed transmission, and other challenges that the circuit board must withstand during operation. In order to mitigate these challenges, TechSparks recommends incorporating high-frequency flex circuits into the design. This approach can effectively address these issues while reducing device weight.

Lighting System

PCB for LED field

LED, or light-emitting diode, refers to a diode made of semiconductor materials. It finds applications in a wide range of markets, including medical, automotive, and other industries, where its functionality is obtained when soldered onto the PCB and loaded with chips. The combination of LED and PCB is highly valued for its low power consumption, high efficiency, and impressive light output. The following outlines some of the applications of LED PCB:

  • Household LED: This application is ubiquitous in daily life, including smart light bulbs, catering lighting systems, etc. Some companies use LEDs as the outer frame of signs to enhance the facade’s aesthetics. These PCB applications are simpler and cost-effective, making them an ideal choice for saving household electricity.
  • Automotive LED: Almost all the light-emitting parts in cars are realized by the application of LED PCBs, including front and rear lights, interior lighting systems, and indicator lights on car audio.
  • Medical Lighting System: The medical lighting system has stricter requirements than household lamps. Can you imagine the consequences if the operating light suddenly goes out during the operation? Surgical LED PCBs provide more stable current, reduce heat dissipation while providing sufficient light, and have longer life and stability.
  • Computer: Ued in the computer field for backlighting, lighting controls, and more.
  • Telecommunication: LED PCBs are used for network communication devices, base station equipment, and more.

In LED applications, the primary function of PCB is to dissipate heat from the bulb. LED components are temperature-sensitive and their lifespan can be shortened by high temperatures. Therefore, when undertaking LED projects, it is essential to address the issue of heat dissipation. TechSparks recommends incorporating a heat sink during the design process, optimizing ventilation design and PCB layout. Furthermore, it is recommended to use aluminum substrates for material selection. Of all metal substrates, aluminum has superior heat dissipation performance and is a cost-effective option, making it particularly well-suited for low-margin projects such as LEDs.

Summarize

TechSparks has provided an overview of various circuit board applications, and it can also be used in high-end electronic products such as aerospace and military defense electronics. However, the manufacturing of these circuit boards can be challenging, especially for more advanced electronic products. As the complexity of the electronic product increases, more layers are required to achieve higher circuit density, which in turn makes the production process more difficult.

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